AGUA PRIETA, SONORA, MEXICO (CBS5) – The Mexican border town of Agua Prieta, Sonora, is normally a quiet community. Directly across the border from Douglas, AZ, it was originally a crossing location for minerals from the mines located to the south.
But during the past month, the dusty streets have seen something they hadn’t seen in years: drug violence and the sounds of gunfire and bombs.
“Nobody’s going out at night. The restaurants are closed and so are the discos,” said Juan Carlos Olvera, a journalist who has worked the town’s streets for 15 years.
Olvera said the recent spike in violence is the result of an internal power struggle within the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, which controls the entire smuggling corridor along the Arizona and Sonora border.
“They’re readjusting the power base,” said Olvera.
In the past year, Olvera said Agua Prieta had 16 murders. The town had eight murders in just three days in January. They’ve been carried out in spectacular fashion, with the killers spraying buildings and trucks with hundreds of bullets. One attack involved a bomb.
Mexican police have beefed up patrols and appear to be pulling over vehicles at random, looking for guns.
Along the border, the fear is that this power struggle may spread to other border towns along the cartel’s smuggling corridor.